It’s Children’s Book Week (16–22 August 2014), so let’s enjoy a few stories about literature for the young (and young-at-heart).
Tactile books have been around for a long time. They’re fantastic objects for introducing the magical world of books to very young children who are blind or visually impaired. You can read about the Tactile Book Advancement Group here, and about how to make fabric tactile books here. You can also find out more here about Vision Australia’s Feelix Library. It’s a great Braille book library for children who are blind or have low vision.
But the CU-Boulder Tactile Picture Books Project has a surprising ‘new kid’ aspect. It’s producing the first-ever 3D-printed tactile picture books.
Professor Tom Yeh heads up the uni’s Sikuli Lab, and he and his students started by producing four 3D-printed pages for Harold and the purple crayon (by Crockett Johnson) earlier this year. They’ve now also produced a complete 3D-printed Goodnight moon (by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd).
Professor Yeh and his team are working with the Anchor Center for Blind Children (a Denver preschool) in developing the project.
Their ultimate goal is that one day, when every household has a 3D printer, people will be able to make tactile picture books for children to use and enjoy at home.
Excellent, don’t you think? Thanks, springwise, for mentioning this great project.
From the wonders of the near future, let’s take a step back in time now.
If you’re curious about what children were reading 100 (or more) years ago, why not visit the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature online? It’s the repository of ‘130,000 books and periodicals published in the United States and Great Britain from the mid-1600s to the present day’. The Library as Incubator project describes the Baldwin Library as the United States’ ‘preeminent resource for researchers interested in children’s literature’.
It all began with an initial donation by prolific collector Ruth Baldwin of 35,000 children’s books, in 1977. The library opened at the University of Florida in 1982, and its collection has grown in the ensuing years. It’s held some great exhibitions, and its digital resources are very easy to use. Why not take a brief escape into this online treasure soon?
Closer to home, here’s a shout out to Jackie Hosking. She’s a children’s writer who’s also been doing a lot for other Australian children’s writers for the last 10 years.
Jackie’s e-zine, Pass it on, is a great starting point for anyone interested in writing for children.
It’s the place to go to find out about competitions, workshops and opportunities for Australian children’s book writers and illustrators. Jackie’s a talented writer of rhyming stories, and runs an editorial service for similar writers. Libby Gleeson, Jackie French and Susanne Gervay are just a few of the e-zine’s fans. If you’re interested in writing for children, you really don’t want to miss it.
And because I love a pun (and would love even more to be a six-year-old enjoying this sleepover!), I wanted to mention the Australian Museum’s ‘Dinosnore’ Sleepover in its Dinosaurs exhibition. It is an expensive outing, but possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for interested kids (and accompanying adults).
Mentioning Sydney’s ‘night at the museum’ reminds me of the movie Night at the museum, and its stars Ben Stiller and Robin Williams. Among the many stories written about Robin Williams’ passing this week, Stiller’s words about meeting Williams when Stiller was a young teen rang so true:
I met Robin when I was 13 at the Improv. I was there with my parents who were maybe performing and it was crowded and I heard this voice behind me saying ‘Stay close to your mother you’ll be safe! Stay close to your mother you’ll be safe!’ … I turned around and it was Robin. For a 13 year old who was a huge Mork & Mindy fan, it was sort of like the end of the world. I never forgot it.
While the loss of Williams has saddened millions, he’ll be remembered by history as a comedian in the same league as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Bob Hope and other legends. And, as many writers noted, his fans ranged across ages, including the very young. So it seems somehow right to end this post about children’s literature with Sesame Street’s lovely tribute (on Twitter) to Robin Williams this week: